Deadline day looms

Tomorrow – May 28th – is the deadline for Nepal’s constitution.

Differing political blocks (of the 20 plus political parties involved including the Maoists)have been scrambling to get an extension of the deadline but with little success. Parliament is closed today and will reconvene for the deadline.. Rival factions have started to have photo ops with the media of their paramilitary groups according to the Himalayan Times and Kathmandu Post. There is no finalised constitution. Nepal is amazing but rife with problems inflicted from external and internal sources – development issues, economic uncertainty, political instability, lack of access to clean water, food supply costs, load shedding, pollution, competing INGO’s and NGO’s, homelessness, land seizures, drugs…

But this country deserves a bright future.

The people are tenacious even after years of political instability and civil war. They are open-hearted, funny  and intelligent. The country is beautiful and despite its issues Nepal gets under your skin. I miss living there. I love Nepal and I am fearful about her future if things go badly after the deadline passes.

Here are some links if you wish to follow what is happening more closely.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2010/05/2010525101847265629.html

http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/

http://epaper.ekantipur.com/ktpost/epaperhome.aspx?issue=2752010

http://blog.com.np/

http://www.nepalnews.com/main/index.php/news-archive/2-political/5142-maoist-ethnic-group-forms-paramilitary-wing.html

To my friends and family in Nepal be safe – my thoughts are with you.

Please contact me if needed or you have information about what is happening you would like to share.

Bhanda -day 1

A few hours ago, according to the Himalayan Times, Maoists took to the streets of Kathmandu filling the night  with  shadows  sourced from burning brands.

I don’t know about you, but for me a group of protesters carrying burning torches and patrolling the streets has a menacing undertone.

The Himalayan Times was a sobering read this morning. The email in my inbox from a Nepali friend , “Bob” (named changed) was even more sobering.

This is what Bob had to say about the Maoists actions in Nepal;

“They have weapons and ordered people to come to the capital city for war with government. And many people came from village and participant in their demonstration though many people do not have desire to participant.”
“Actually Maoist are lying to the world. They are playing double role. One thing saying to the world -but another things they are doing here. Their activities are  against the democracy.”

Other friends I have managed to contact say it’s okay but a bit edgy with locals advising them not to go out.

But it is Nepal, anything could happen and everything could be fine in a few days or not. It is that kind of country.What to do?

Also the American’s have stopped  public services  at the embassy- I don’t like it when embassies close like that.

For all the latest happenings in Nepal. I suggest the Himalayan Times is a good starting point.

Check  them out here

P.S If you have any news of what is happening, on the ground in Nepal, please get in touch.

Bhanda Blues

As the date draws near for a completed constitution in Nepal ( May 28) things are hotting up with the Maoist’s having declared a indefinite strike in the last 12 hours. This means, if the strike goes forward, the country will practically shut down till 5pm every-night when stores can open so the population can stock up on  food and other essentials.( Until the Maoists feel they have gotten what they want from the strike.)

The Maoists whom basically abandoned running the country in May 2009  are now holding the country to ransom, shipping in protesters from rural areas into Kathmandu, to give their cause more leverage on the streets of the capital.

I witnessed this phenomenon on my most recent trip just before the start of a five day bhanda (strike). Going out of the city for the day I saw seven buses driving into the capital , over an hour, filled to the brim with red clad Maoist’s for the upcoming protests in Kathmandu. It can’t be denied this is clever political tactics. People do not break Maoist bhandas- as the penalties for breaking a strike are harsh. I witnessed a shop owner beaten by a pack of men and rickshaw drivers bloodied and bruised for daring to cross the Maoist mass.

But I am wondering what the point of the latest action is.The Maoists had a hard time running the country and stepped down. The current coalition of 22 parties aren’t much better but they are trying to get things together despite obstructionist behaviour from a number of groups in addition to the Maoists.

If Nepal gets a constitution it gets a chance to really address the issues it faces with a clear mandate behind it’s actions.

Here are some links, from various news agencies, covering the latest in Nepal.

CNN

Al Jazeera

Himalaya Times